Monday, December 20, 2021

Monterey Shows Orange Microphone Dot on Video Projectors

Peter Kirn (Hacker News):

In the interest of security and privacy, Apple on macOS Monterey has added a prominent orange dot to display outputs when audio capture is active. That renders their machines unusable for live visual performance, though, since it’s also shown on external displays.


You can disable the menu bar on external displays, via the “Displays Have Separate Spaces” display preference, but the orange dot still appears.

It seems like a bug that it appears even on displays with no menu bar.


As far as I know, the best long-term answer here is for apps that present visuals full screen to “capture” the external display for exclusive use using an API, but that’s not super common right now.


Update (2021-12-28): See also: MacRumors.

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Another issue is that the meaning of the orange dot is a mystery for a lot (if not the majority) of iOS users (and now macOS users).

Let alone that orange dot is supposed to be a hardware light akin to working camera indicator. That's if you actually understand its purpose

Capturing the screen isn’t a perfect workaround though. Display configuration is disabled while capturing the screen so if you connect to a projector or external monitor while the screen is captured, the resolution won’t adapt and you might get a black or distorted picture.

I had to back off from capturing the screen in one of my apps because of this.

Another indicator that the orange dot lives in a separate conceptual space is that it doesn't animate well when you change spaces.

Beatrix Willius

It took me a while to figure out the meaning of the dot. It's not very "prominent".

Why does it render the computer unusable for live performance?

@ Beatrix: Imagine, say, you're a DJ at a party. You use a MacBook Pro at your little table, and you have various audio inputs (including, occasionally, your voice). You also have a projector connected to show a visualizer, a slideshow, whatever. Because you're recording audio, there's now a permanent (or, worse, flickering) orange dot in the top right of that projected image. Doesn't look very professional, and there's absolutely nothing you can do (other than run macOS Big Sur instead).

This is clearly well-intentioned, but I wish Apple either made such features opt-in until they've gathered enough feedback, or internally put more thought into them. They're forcing a change on everyone that hurts (not quite breaks, but hurts) some people's workflows.

I make music and it shows up in Fullscreen on my Macbook Pro 16" 2019 while I work with my DAW and I dislike it very very much. I am autistic with ADHD and this actually triggers decompensation episodes for me so I haven't been able to make music since I can't turn it off to stop distracting me. Forcing it's unwanted presence onto my work area, not cool. If I wanted to capture my desktop that orange dot would be there because of OBS captures it which totally ruins the footage so I can't make videos of me doing anything right now.
Don't tell me it's not a big deal and I should just deal with it because that is abusive and ignorant. I have contacted Apple multiple times requesting an option or something because it is negatively affecting me as a human outside of just disrupting my creativity. They say they are for creators but this is couldn't be further away from helping creatives.

@ Bryan: your best bet for now is to downgrade to Big Sur.


I made Recording Indicator Utility which supports macOS 12.2 and lets you turn off the recording indicator light system-wide. You can also hide the recording indicator by choosing a list of apps (allowlist your favorite DAW and OBS), or automatically hide it in full-screen.

Get it here:

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